What are the ways of knowing one might ask? To give a brief answer, the ways of knowing can be categorized into language, emotions, sense perception, imagination, reason, faith, memory, and intuition. Despite there being many ways one can explore and know new knowledge, there will certainly be differences between all 8 of the ways of knowing. But is there one that is the best of all? To answer that, we must define what it means to “know”, for a person to know something is the truth, most of the time depends on a person’s faith and belief. However, humans often have different understandings regarding one topic, even the very definition of “know”. To examine if some ways of knowing are more likely to lead to the truth, I will be focusing on the 8 ways of knowing as well as the way they apply to real-world examples to suggest that all ways of knowing are not inferior to each other but are in fact dependent of each other.
To approach my thesis, we will be examining a selection way of knowing first, discussing their properties and limitations.
Language can be interpreted as a set of symbols that allow humans to communicate ideas with others. Language is of great significance to know certain things, had humans never developed a language system, mankind would never be as prosperous as it is. However, since there is no universal language, the limitation of language arises as it is only accessible to certain populations. For instance, if a Chinese university is teaching class, a person that is non-Chinese wouldn’t quite understand what is happening as that person does not speak Chinese.
Emotions are the foundations of humanity, this way of knowing is very influencing as emotions can be leading factors to decide how one is to perceive a certain thing or event. But emotions are often unstable, some even regard it as irrational, it is more prone to be subjective and emotions also vary from person to person, therefore generating different views and perceptions of certain things.
Sense perception is a concept of how one can observe the world; the five senses, look, smell, hear, touch, and taste all contribute to the way a person sees their surroundings. These senses are given to us at birth and are essential to our survival. This way of knowing despite letting us experience things from different angles, are only limited to what we can know physically. (things that we can only know biologically)
Reasoning is more linked to logic, it is a process of knowledge that leads to a valid outcome. Often times we use reasoning to deduct outcomes that may be conceptual or hard to interpret as a whole by thinking about the logic behind of an object/event. Although reasoning being a way of knowing with more accuracy, it only goes as far as the capability of the individual. For example to let a second grader prove the pythagorean theorm will be near impossible as the second grader was never exposed to such knowledge therefore unable to use reasoning to know what the pythagorean theorm is.
To combine the 4 ways of knowing listed above and give a clearer image of how the ways of knowing does not have one that is significant over the other but in fact compliments each other, think of an example where a person is painting a painting, the painter would first use sense perception to see what he will be drawing, mix the colors needed, feel the force applied to the pen to create strokes of different sizes, then he would need to use emotions to feel what mood he would want the painting to be; is it sad, joyful or neutral? At last for the painting stages, the painter would need to use his reasoning to inform him that one way of composition is better than the other way of composition based on art theories. When the painter is done, he would also need to explain the context of the painting, (the inspiration, colors and techniques etc.)
Seeing the examples above, it can be infered that there is no way of learning that is superior or inferior to the others but all the ways of knowing work together to lead to the clearest truth.